At a press conference sponsored by the State Council Information Office on January 8, 2004, Zhang Zuoji, governor of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, explained the five advantages of border trade with Russia. They involve geology, human history, public relations, scientific and technological cooperation and fast trade settlement.
Geology. Located in central northeast Asia and facing Russia across a river, Heilongjiang has 25 first-class ports and three completed trade areas. The Heihe Bridge and the Luohe Bridge, that will both cross the Heilong River and are under construction, will link the northeast China railway lines and Russian far eastern railways, forming a trade thoroughfare.
Human history. Contacts between Heilongjiang Province and the former Soviet Union and current Russia have a long history. The province ranks first in China in the number of qualified personnel in Russian, particularly in both Russian language and technology, and in studies on Russia. Before the 1950s, Russian and Jewish people living in Heilongjiang numbered 200,000. With a deep nostalgia, their descendents are willing to invest in the province.
Public relations. Heilongjiang Province and local governments of states and prefectures in the Far East region of Russia and Siberia area, lying on the opposite side of Heilong River, have established a regular mutual meeting mechanism. A batch of powerful enterprises from Heilongjiang has initiated international business in Russia in areas with timber cutting, mining exploration, real estate development, pulp and wood processing. They have built a firm base in Russia and accumulated rich experience in Sino-Russian trade.
Scientific and technological cooperation. The Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) and Moscow Powering Engineering Institute have jointly established a Sino-Russia Cooperation Center. The Heilongjiang provincial government plans to build a Sino-Russian Science Park and a Sino-Russia Science City in Harbin on the basis of the cooperation center. Currently, exchanges between experts and scholars of the two countries are increasingly frequent with a long-term cooperative relationship between the universities and polytechnics in Harbin and experts and scholars in Russia having been set up.
Fast trade settlement. Chinese and Russian central banks have decided to provide local clearing services in Heihe County in China's Heilongjiang Province and Russia's Blagoveschensk.
Zhang said that Heilongjiang Province has fully explored these advantages to collaborate with domestic economically developed areas such as Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian to step in Russia market. "Remarkable progress has been achieved in sectors that include home appliances, clothing, caps and shoes, light industries and daily commodities," he added.
At the conference, Zhang and his counterparts in Liaoning and Jilin provinces Bo Xilai and Hong Hu also briefed the press on their respective policies, measures and development progresses on rejuvenating the old northeastern industrial base.
(China.org.cn January 9, 2004)